Negro Spirituals: Selah Jubilee Singers

Spirituals or Negro Spirituals, consist of christian music that is from the creation of generations of African-Americans. Negro Spirituals often lyricize the struggles of the African-American community as well as African-American Cultural Traditions. Some famous groups and singers that performed Negro spirituals consist of The Fisk Jubilee singers, Hall Johnson and The Golden Gate Quartet. The Selah Jubilee Singers however were very active during the early 1900s and were the first gospel group to perform in the Apollo Theater.

The Selah Jubilee singers started out singing and performing out of their local church in New York under the watch and care of Mother Lambert, the priest of the church. The Selah Jubilee singers began singing in the church choir and as time went on began performing before and after Mother Lambert’s service for a packed house. The Selah’s and Mother Lambert took their act on the road in the early 30s going on an Evangelical tour in Texas. Mother Lambert was very protective and somewhat possessive of the Selahs forbidding them to perform at other churches.

Eventually, The Selah Jubilee Singers broke free from the chains of Mother Lambert, being under the care of one of their lead vocalist Thermon Ruth. The Selah’s began performing and recording songs with the Decca records creating hits like “Take My Hand, Precious Lord” and “I’ll Fly Away”. Though a few of the Selah’s songs were hits, being in a contract with Decca, they made very little and received no royalties from their records. Many of the Selahs worked day jobs to make ends meet and only performed at nights and or on the weekends.

As time went on the Selah Jubilee Singers fell apart as their leader, Thermon Ruth broke off from the group starting up another, The Jubilators, who in the years beat the Selah’s in a contest for a 50 pound cake.

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